Here’s what Android Wear needs to learn from Apple Watch
If you haven’t used a smartwatch yet you’re really missing out! These wearables are in no way supposed to replace your smartphone or tablet. Rather, wearables – smartwatches in particular – are designed to work with your smartphone so you can keep it in your pocket (or on the table or nightstand) rather than pulling it out to check whatever that last “ding”, “bloop”, or “bleep” was. In that respect, smartwatches are fulfilling their purpose very, very well.
It showed your alerts and notifications, and most importantly, it showed the time. Its battery would last all week, it was waterproof (like most watches are), and it could be read in the sun (as all timepieces should).
Now, rather than being a simple “second screen” for our smartphones, our watches could perform simple interactions with our phones. Then Android Wear was updated over the air, and we began to be able to do “stuff” right there on the watch. This was great – or so we thought.
Nonetheless, it’s what we had. Not only that, we could have it for US$250.
Apple likes to let others break the ice, to make mistakes, to blaze the trail, and to forge ahead. Then, when the time is right, Apple unleashes something “new” that the world has “never seen before” – and all it ends up being is a polished version of what’s already out there.
Apple makes beautiful, well-built products, no doubt about it. Apple also makes products that are relatively under-powered and over-priced (compared to competing devices). Regardless, people will pay – as evidenced by a $17,000 price tag for the luxury “Edition”.
However, in full fairness, based on what we’ve seen so far, there are some things that Apple Watch does better than Android Wear – and Google would be wise to take note!
Android Wear has Google Now. With that you can do a lot of things – but you can only interact with a few objects in the real world, everything else is an interaction with something on your phone (replying to a text message, dismissing a call, etc.). Setting your home temperature, or telling your thermostat that you’ve left for the day represent the bulk of the “real world” actions that you can take from your wrist. Yes, with tasker-like apps, and IFTTT (now simply IF) you can create recipes that do a whole lot more, but doing so is fairly complex.
The Apple Watch demonstration showed us that we can not only react to incoming notifications, but we can initiate actions independently. We can make phone calls from our watch. We can open our garage door from our watch. And so on.
What’s more, launching apps on Android Wear is “clunky” at best. Even starting my 3rd party tip calculator can take significantly more time than just figuring it out in my head. Apple Watch has this figured out – apps are just a press of the digital crown away.
Lastly, the way Apple has revolutionized the watch band, with its new sleek and simple interchangeable mechanism is probably the biggest and most useful advancement to come to timepieces since the quartz crystal. Mark my words, people will try to mimic this one feature more than anything else about the watch.
Room to Improve
Apple still has room to improve. Battery life is on-par with that of Android Wear, which is barely “sufficient”. Smart watches have to get up into the three to five day range (at least) before they’ll be taken seriously by anyone who wears a “regular” watch.
The face must always be visible. Motorola tries to accomplish this through Ambient Display, but that still eats up juice. Apple, like Motorola with Ambient Display turned off, will fade the watch face to black – rendering that elegant timepiece on your wrist into nothing more than a blank slate, devoid of purpose. This is simply unacceptable in a timepiece. Whether or not Apple will offer an “ambient display” mode like Motorola does remains to be seen.
Last, but certainly not least is price. To buy an Apple Watch equivalent to the Moto 360 you’ll have to fork out twice the cash. Even the most basic, “ladies” watch is a C-note more expensive than the Moto.
Apple Watch versus Android Wear
Will people buy Apple Watch? Sure they will. They’ll line up to be able to get it on their wrist. Does it excel over Android Wear in some areas? Absolutely! Does Android Wear outpace Apple Watch? In other areas, certainly!
As it stands, Apple’s product only works on Apple’s phones, and Google’s product only works on Android-powered phones. What if the rumors are true, and Google get Android Wear working on iOS. That would be a very interesting day in the tech industry, wouldn’t it?
Pocketnow’s Adam Doud contributed to this article.